Max Thomson

Max Thomson

Master of Gastronomy student
Bachelor of Business in Accounting and Management

Can you be a gastronome if you don’t drink? That’s the interesting topic Max Thomson is exploring for his Master of Gastronomy; a qualification he expects to complete later this year.

“My dissertation – Gastronome: To drink or not to drink – investigates whether consuming alcoholic beverages is a requirement in order to be considered a gastronome; an expert on all things food and drink.

“My interest in this topic results from my position as a non-drinker. Given how gastronomy is concerned with all things food and drink, I have often found myself questioning whether my choice to abstain from alcohol is a valid position to hold. I remember asking this question in one of my gastronomy classes, and my lecturer, Dr Tracy Berno, suggested that this would be a great topic for my dissertation. That was a real lightbulb moment.”

Max’s master’s degree research is being supervised by Dr Lindsay Neill from AUT’s School of Hospitality and Tourism.

The right university environment
For Max, his AUT journey actually started in a very different field – he completed a Bachelor of Business in Accounting and Management. Because he thoroughly enjoyed his undergraduate degree, he didn’t hesitate to return to AUT for his postgraduate study.

“I was very impressed with the standard of education offered by AUT during my business degree. The facilities and services offered to AUT students are also fantastic. When I discovered that AUT offered a Master of Gastronomy programme, it was an easy decision to continue my education at AUT.”

Food and gastronomy are topics that have long fascinated him, says Max who is planning to combine his love of food and sport in a business context.

“The gastronomy degree appealed to me as I’ve always enjoyed food and being in and around the kitchen at home. I feel very fortunate to be able to gain a master’s degree while simultaneously exploring a field of interest. I’m continually becoming more aware of the symbolic role of food and drink, and have come to realise how gastronomy is a part of our daily lives, whether we realise it or not.”

Finding inspiration
The academic staff have been one of the highlights of Max’s time at AUT.

“AUT has excellent teaching staff who are passionate about their field of study. I’ve been fortunate to have been lectured by such individuals and their passion is contagious, which facilitates great learning environments. This has driven my interest and made the countless hours of research that much more rewarding.”

He has had a number of highlights throughout his university studies.

“I was awarded a summer research scholarship by the School of Hospitality and Tourism. My research explored how alcohol is treated within Christian and Islamic faith, and how New Zealand’s socio-culture influences each groups’ views towards alcohol. I’ve also found the Master of Gastronomy coursework very interesting, and the assignments enable each student to explore an area of interest.”

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